September 6, 2009

Originoo Gunn Clappaz - The M-Pire Shrikez Back (August 17, 1999)


The Originoo Gunn Clappaz (made up of rappers Starang Wondah, Louieville Sluggah, and Top Dog) were the fourth act to release an album out of the Boot Camp Clik, following Black Moon, Smif-N-Wessun, and Heltah Skeltah. They were the second act to release an album under the BCC's own Duck Down Records, after Heltah Skeltah's Nocturnal. (Black Moon and Smif-N-Wessun left their label, Nervous Records, after not getting paid properly for their work: they left that company without the right to use their own fucking names. Now that was a terrible contract.) Most importantly (from an industry perspective), the O.G.C. were the first act to not really sell any copies of their debut, Da Storm.

While I actually liked Da Storm a lot, it's easy to see what happened: other than the fact that there was a limited marketing budget (only two videos were ever released from the project, neither of which blew up Rap City, although they were aired on a fairly regular basis), the Originoo Gunn Clappaz play to a limited audience. Their very name doesn't help: if you're adverse to either violence or poor spelling, the O.G.C. (and the BCC in general) weren't for you. Da Storm was filled with dusty basement beats and above-average boasts from figurehead Hurricane Starang, with assists from the other two with varying degrees of quality, but there wasn't anything on that album that would attract a mainstream audience, although it could be argued that the O.G.C. couldn't care less about the radio.

You could say the same thing about their follow-up, The M-Pire Shrikez Back, which is even more polarizing: people who prefer Star Trek to the Star Wars canon may be turned off by the title (although the album has nothing to do with George Lucas and his cash cow), and the use of the word "shrikez", whatever the fuck that means, almost led to me not buying the album: I ultimately picked it up because Starang Wondah is one of my favorite unsung rappers, and I was secretly hoping that the word (which isn't even a real word, so it might not even be misspelled, but it sure looks that way, doesn't it?) would be explained. It wasn't.

The M-Pire Shrikez Back is simultaneously darker and peppier than its predecessor, as its production is handled by approximately eight hundred different people who, apparently, failed to consult with each other first. Just like their labelmates, Ruck and Rock from Heltah Skeltah, the O.G.C. show their allegiance to the M.F.C., a spinoff from the Boot Camp Clik, and give equal love to both parties throughout the album.

Critical praise was moderately high, but sales were even worse this time around, which resulted in the Originoo Gunn Clappaz taking a hiatus from recording together, although they continued to be a part of the Boot Camp Clik's group efforts. It makes sense: as I cannot remember any videos filmed for this project (I could be wrong), there are some hip hop heads that could very well not be aware of the existence of The M-Pire Shrikez Back, right?

Right?

1. SHOOT TO KILL
To nobody's surprise, Starang's voice is the first one you hear on this sophomore effort. DJ Grey Boy's beat informs listeners that the Beatminerz-dominated musical backing of Da Storm is left in the dust, but it still manages to sound alright. Kind of curious that Top Dog doesn't even appear on the first song from the second album from his own group, though. O.G.C. isn't Wu-Tang: it's relatively easy to fit three guys onto one instrumental.

2. JOE CLAIR SKIT
They got Rap City's Big Tigger to appear on Da Storm, so I guess going after one of his co-hosts was the obvious choice for album number two. (Had the crew continued to record together, I'm sure their third album would have included an interlude with Big Lez.) Even though Joe's line about guys wearing shirts so tight that you can see their hearts beating made me laugh, this was completely unnecessary, as its only function seems to be repeating the title of the album ad nauseam, in an effort to justify it, and yet, failing miserably.

3. THE M-PIRE SHRIKEZ BACK (FEAT ROCK & THUNDERFOOT)
So what the fuck does “Shrikez” mean? Do then Originoo Gunn Clappaz even remember at this point? Just like Heltah Skeltah did with their second album, M.F.C. references abound on this disc, giving the impression that Starang and company were on the fence regarding their Boot Camp Clik affiliation and, as such, created a new group just in case the first ship hit an iceberg. I know that wasn't the case, but unless I hear that Cocoa Brovaz album again and, somehow, pick up on M.F.C. references that I missed the first time around, that's the rumor I plan on spreading.

4. SOMETIMEY
This is more like it. Black Market's chiming on the beat helps create an ominous mood that is kind of like a second home for most of the rappers in the BCC. O.G.C. climb up into the bell tower and start spitting some shit over some dark shit that reminds me of Da Storm's production. This shit was nice.

5. SHIT HAPPPENS
Rebell's beat was going out for a walk, trying to keep itself, but it ended up stopping at a Cold Stone Creamery, trying to hook up with the cute goth-lite girl behind the counter, failing miserably, and swallowing sadness while jacking off at home. Or something. My description is much more interesting than the actual song was.

6. BOUNCE TO THE OUNCE
The only single released from this album, and it barely made a dent in the industry, so all future marketing was pulled. (I did some research, and apparently there was a video released: I sure as shit never saw it on television.) However, I did like this song back in the day: regardless of its title, this is neither a club track nor a cover of Zapp's “More Bounce To The Ounce”.

7. GIRLZ NINETY NOW (FEAT TEK, STEELE, & RUCK)
The Boot Camp Clik utilize an old-school beat to kick some old-school rhymes about girlz. It's playful enough to establish that the guys had fun creating their random stories, but the freaky tales are offensive enough to turn off half of the world's population. Not that there are many women who would actually listen to the BCC, but still.

8. SMOKEY SKIT (BLESS THE MIC)
Especially not when they make skits such as this.

9. THE BIG OHH (FEAT TEK)
Meh.

10. IF YOU FEEL LIKE I FEEL (FEAT HARDCORE)
I liked Black Market's beat: it gives the impression that the O.G.C. could do pretty well for themselves if they performed live with an orchestra backing them. The rhymes of Hardcore threw me off completely, though.

11. SLO MO
I actually like this song a lot. Rebell takes the Originoo Gunn Clapppaz on a trip to an entirely new sound, one which they adapt to beautifully. Starang Wondah takes the cue to speed-rap, and doesn't sound terrible doing so, but I appreciated how Louisville Sluggah flat-out refuses to play ball, instead slowing down his delivery much more so than normal. More experimentation of this nature would have been nice, guys. The beat also reminds me of the Youngbloodz's “85”, for some reason.

12. YOU'RE NOT SURE TO SEE TOMORROW (FEAT DOC HOLIDAY, ILLA NOYZ, LIL' KNOCK, TWANIE RANKS, & M.S.)
Odd that the lone track provided by one of Da Beatminerz (Baby Paul, specifically) sucks, like, thirty goddamn dicks. This shit is boring as fuck. Groan...

13. FROM THE TABLE TO THE LABEL SKIT
...

14. SUSPECT N----Z (FEAT BUCKSHOT & HAVOC)
This was the B-side to the “Bounce To The Ounce” single. Havoc, the not-imprisoned half of Mobb Deep who has also enjoyed a longstanding working relationship with the BCC ever since he appeared on Black Moon's “U Da Man”, produces this track (and handles the final verse). Oddly, I didn't even recognize that it was Havoc on the track until I heard his unmistakable vocal inflections turned in the phrase “only a fad”. (Maybe he had a cold that day.) The beat is almost too simple, but it also does not sound like anything Hav and P would spit to, so that was nice. The O.G.C.'s boss, Buckshot, also sounded pretty nice on here. This wasn't bad.

15. DIRTIEST PLAYERS IN THE GAME (FEAT HELTAH SKELTAH)
The Fab 5 reunite for this song, but this is nowhere near as fun as “Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka” or even "Blah". Da Rockness Monsta and Sean Price dominate JT's beat, while Starang Wondah is left holding the bag with a verse that is, surprisingly, lazy as fuck. This was disappointing.

16. SET SAIL
I quite liked JT's beat on here, but the rappers all fail to appreciate the gift they have been given. They even manage to ruin this shit by including a lame-ass hook. Sigh...

17. BOOT CAMP MFC EASTERN CONFERENCE (FEAT BOOT CAMP CLIK & M.F.C.)
I once wrote that the members of the Boot Camp Clik can seemingly pass the mic around and spit forever, and that statement still holds true with this track. The beat is fairly weak, but it only exists so that the rappers involved know how long their verses are supposed to run, so this was a decent way to end the proceedings.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I remember liking The M-Pire Shrikez Back when I first bought it. Not as much as I loved Da Storm, but enough to feel justified with my purchase: I appreciated the fact that they changed up the production a bit while refusing to adapt their styles (save for on “Slo Mo”). Today, I'm not so sure, though. Even though the beats come from waaaay too many sources, a lot of them are fairly interesting: it's the Originoo Gunn Clappaz themselves that cause the album to fail. Louieville Sluggah steps the fuck up while Starang Wondah, who is still one of my favorite rappers, takes a fucking nap, refusing to deviate from the brash smart-ass character he honed on Da Storm. Top Dog is a complete non-factor, as well. Their refusal to adapt to the music provided for them, once considered charming, only proves today that the O.G.C. were stubborn and wrongheaded, and The M-Pire Shrikez Back is a culmination of bad ideas. While this ended up being just slightly more entertaining than Heltah Skeltah's follow-up Magnum Force, it is completely understandable why the O.G.C. don't work together as a group anymore. (Although it should be noted that the crew never officially broke up, so they could easily pick up where they left off in the future. The question is: will you care?)

BUY OR BURN? I can't recommend a purchase here. Some of these tracks are pretty good, but as a total package, this shit just sucks. Just because I wasted my money back in 1999 doesn't mean that you have to.

BEST TRACKS: “Slo Mo”; “Sometimey”; “Suspect N----z”

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Originoo Gunn Clappaz – Da Storm

8 comments:

  1. sorry to bother you with the obvious, but all of New Rae is streaming on myspace, so hopefully we will have a gut reaction tomorrow or somethin.

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  2. Wow, I never really paid attention to the title...I always thought it was "Strikez." Anyway, I agree with most of the review, but I actually like the beat on "You're Not Sure To See Tomorrow" although the chorus and the moaning in the middle was annoying as shit.

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  3. very overrated.

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  4. I liked this album. It wasn't a classic or anything, but there were alot of tracks that were great. "Shoot to Kill" is still my favorite OGC song.

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  5. This album has some of the best and worst of OGC.

    It always blew my mind that at the beginning of “Shoot to Kill”, the FIRST song on the album, one of the crew (I think Starang Wondah) says the name of the album wrong.

    “…for the new Duck Down release, the Empire Fights Back staring OGC…”

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  6. AnonymousMay 01, 2010

    This is one of the best albums of 99. i love the beats, half of the songs are great, i especially like "the dirtiest players in the game" that sh. is funnnnnnnky

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  7. AnonymousJuly 22, 2011

    Shrikez comes from "Lt. Shriker" from Death Wish 3. To shrike means to fuck someone up smugly.

    I can't remember even being aware of this album, and I think I'll be able to live out my days along similar lines.

    Looking back at lists of the stuff released in '99, a best album is a tough call. Probably Things Fall Apart. Definitely nothing from the BCC, though they'd been pretty magnificent and often in the years leading up to.

    P.E.A.C.E.

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  8. AnonymousJune 30, 2012

    man. youre really fucking stupid. they can call it "the empire strikes back" because theyd get sued. the name of the album was "the empire strikes back" but it wasnt, if you feel me. but you probably dont, because you started listening to "the raps" in like 2005 or something. every track on this was hot. doc holidays had a lot of good guest appearences too.

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